Best travel credit cards in Canada for 2023
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Updated: July 19, 2023
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Just how far can your Canadian travel credit card take you? Whether you’re a bargain hunter, snowbirder, frequent flyer or bonus surfer, we’ve handpicked the best travel credit card deals in Canada to help you fly and lodge for less (or for free!).
|Credit card||Best for||Annual fee||Apply for card|
|TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*||Aeroplan||$139||Apply now|
|BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®||Lounge Access||$150 (first year free)||Apply now|
|Rogers™ World Elite® Mastercard®||Cash Back on Purchases in U.S. Dollars||$0||Apply now|
|Scotiabank Gold American Express® card||Accelerated Rewards||$120||Apply now|
|Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card||Big Sign-Up Bonus||$150||Apply now|
|American Express® Green Card||No-Fee Travel Rewards||$0||Apply now|
†Terms and conditions apply.
Best travel credit card for Aeroplan members
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card
Minimum credit score: Good-Excellent
Minimum income: $60,000
Standard purchase APR: 20.99%
Balance transfer APR: 22.99%
Cash advance APR: 22.99%
Current promotion ends: January 3, 2024
Annual fee: $139
Aeroplan is the most popular travel reward program among our readers, and the Aeroplan card that currently brings the most value for its annual fee is the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card.
Why we like the card
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card's best offer yet. Earn up to $1,400 in value†, including up to 50,000 Aeroplan points† and additional travel benefits. Must apply by January 3, 2024.
- Earn a welcome bonus of 10,000 Aeroplan points when you make your first purchase with your new card†
- Earn 25,000 Aeroplan points when you spend $5,000 within 180 days of Account opening†
- Plus, earn an anniversary bonus of 15,000 Aeroplan points when you spend $7,500 within 12 months of Account opening†
- Enroll for NEXUS and once every 48 months get an application fee rebate†
- Plus, share free first checked bags with up to 8 travel companions†
You get travel† and car rental insurance† included with the card as well as additional VIP perks such as a free first checked bag for the cardholder and travel companions (up to eight) on the same reservation for Air Canada originated flights†, and more.
- Welcome Bonus: Best Offer yet for the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card: Earn up to $1,400 in value† including up to 50,000 Aeroplan points†. Conditions Apply. Must apply by January 3, 2024.
- Earn Rates: 1.5 Aeroplan points† for every $1 spent on eligible everyday purchases such as groceries, gas, and direct through Air Canada® purchases (including Air Canada Vacations®) made with your card. Every other purchase earns 1 point† per $1 spent.
- Travel Insurance: Up to $2M travel medical coverage for 21 days for those under the age of 65 (first 4 days if you or your spouse is aged 65 or older) with additional top-up coverage available†. Trip cancellation and interruption†, delayed and lost baggage†, and flight/trip delay insurance† also included.
- Extra Travel Features: Free checked bag when flying Air Canada (share free first checked bags with up to 8 travel companions).†
Apply here for the card or learn more about it by reading our complete TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card review.
This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here.
†Terms and conditions apply.
Best travel credit card for lounge access
BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®*
Who's eligible ?
Minimum credit score: Excellent
Minimum income: $80,000
Those who appreciate comfy furnishings, free Wi-Fi and good food and drink during a long flight layover might be inclined to drift into an airport lounge—but lounging gets pricey if you don’t have free access privileges. First, there’s the per-entry fee, usually around $30 or so. And many airport lounges require you to pay an annual membership fee as well. Frequent travellers/loungers can avoid these ballooning costs by using the BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®*, which grants complimentary membership in Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass,* with four annual complimentary passes. That feature alone is worth as much as the card’s $150 annual fee.
Why we like the card
The lounge access feature has high real-world value: entrance with DragonPass will normally cost $32 USD each, and the BMO card’s four annual passes can be used either for the cardholder or a guest. And DragonPass isn’t some obscure program with a few random hole-in-the-wall lounges at airports you’ll never stop in. It’s one of the largest lounge networks in the world, with about 1,300 lounges worldwide.
Lounge access aside, the card also offers a number of other features that are a godsend to travellers, like a thorough set of travel insurance* and very respectable sign-up BMO reward bonus points*.
- Welcome Bonus: Get up to 60,000 points and the annual fee waived in the first year for both the primary cardholder and authorized users.*
- Earn Rates: 5x the points for every $1 spent on eligible travel purchases,* 3x the points for every $1 spent on eligible dining and entertainment purchases and recurring bill payments,* 1 point for every $1 spent everywhere else.*
- Travel Insurance: Comprehensive travel insurance*
- Airport Lounge Access: Complimentary membership in Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass,* with four annual complimentary passes.
- Additional Benefits: Access over 1 million Wi-Fi hotspots around the world – all at no added cost, and no added fees or roaming charges*; special cash back opportunities with participating global merchants*
Apply here or learn more by reading our complete BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®*.
*Terms and conditions apply
Best USD cash back card
Rogers™ World Elite® Mastercard®
Minimum credit score: Good-Excellent
Minimum income: $80,000 individual or $150,000 household
Age: Age of majority in the province of residence
Other: No bankruptcies in the past seven years
Foreign transaction fees—the 2.5% penalty that credit cards charge every time you make a purchase in a non-Canadian currency—are a huge waste of money for Canadian travellers. Unfortunately, most Canadian credit cards still charge this fee, and technically the Rogers™ World Elite® Mastercard® does as well. But the Rogers™ World Elite® Mastercard® more than makes up for that by giving cardholders 3% in cash back rewards on all U.S. dollar purchases. This not only makes up for the 2.5% fee, but it also results in a 0.5% cashback surplus on your U.S. travels.
Why we like the card
The Rogers™ World Elite® Mastercard® is a more appealing option for frequent U.S. travellers than other no foreign transaction fee cards in Canada because most cards in that category merely waive the foreign transaction fees without giving the extra cash back on top. And aside from giving cash back on U.S. dollar transactions, the Rogers™ World Elite® Mastercard® also yields 1.5% in cash back rewards on purchases in C$.
It’s unusual for any credit card to offer this much cash back on all purchases, both foreign and domestic, but this is all the more impressive given that the card has no annual fee. Plus, it offers some travel insurance protections, as well as complimentary membership to Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass granting access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide at $32 USD per person per visit.
- U.S. Currency Cash Back: 3% cash back rewards on all U.S. dollar purchases
- Local Cash Back: 1.5% cash back rewards on all purchases in C$ (unlimited)
- Sign-Up Bonus: $25 in cash back rewards when you make an eligible purchase within 3 months of receiving the card. Conditions apply
- Paid access to airport lounges
- Some travel insurance
Apply here or learn more by reading our complete Rogers™ World Elite® Mastercard® review.
Best travel rewards credit card for accelerated earning
Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card
Minimum credit score: Excellent
Annual fee: $120
The luster of a huge sign-up bonus tends to dim down after the first year ends, and it’s not worth holding onto a card if it doesn’t have long-term value. That’s what makes the Scotiabank Gold American Express® card stand out: Its regular, daily earn rates are so high that it gives permanent value far and above its annual fee.
Why we like the card
The Scotiabank Gold American Express® card rewards spending in the categories that the average person drops most of their money on, like 6X Scene+™ points on every $1 CAD you spend in Canada at Sobeys, Safeway, FreshCo, Foodland, and more eligible grocers.¹ Plus, earn accelerated rates at restaurants, other eligible grocery stores, bars and food delivery in Canada (5X Scene+ points for every $1 CAD spent); and eligible gas, select streaming services, and transportation (3X Scene+ points for every $1 CAD) in Canada. There are two fine-print details that really make the card’s earn rates stand out:
- Unlike many American Express cards, these high earn rates are valid for both stand-alone stores *and* chain stores
- There is a maximum annual spending amount for earning in the accelerated point categories, but it’s a very high $50,000. Once you spend more than that in the categories listed, you’ll earn 1X Scene+ point for $1 on all eligible purchases, until the new year starts and you can resume earning at the accelerated rates.
Aside from earning huge rewards domestically, the Scotiabank Gold American Express® card is also a big asset for spending overseas, because it waives foreign transaction fees while still earning 1X Scene+ point for every $1 on purchases made in a foreign currency.
- Welcome Bonus: Earn up to $650* in value in the first 12 months, including up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points¹. Offer ends October 31, 2023.
- Earn Rates: Earn 6X Scene+™ points on every $1 CAD you spend in Canada at Sobeys, Safeway, FreshCo, Foodland, and more eligible grocers.¹ Earn 5X the Scene+™ points for every $1 CAD spent on other eligible grocery stores, restaurants, fast food, and drinking establishments (including food delivery and food subscription services), as well as on eligible entertainment purchases (movies, theatre, and ticket agencies). Plus, you’ll get 3X the Scene+™ points for every $1 CAD spent on eligible gas, daily transit, and eligible select streaming purchases, and 1X point per $1 spent on every other purchase.
- Travel Insurance: The card includes a range of travel insurance coverage, earning it a place on our list of the best credit cards for travel insurance.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees: The usual 2.5% fee on foreign currency purchases is waived
- Flexible Point Redemption Policy: Book flights, hotels and a wide variety of other travel services through Scotiabank, or order through another travel platform and then apply the points you’ve earned after the charge shows up on your card statement. Points can also be redeemed to cover travel taxes and booking fees, which is a rarity among Canadian travel credit cards.
Apply here or learn more by reading our complete Scotiabank Gold American Express® card review.
¹ Conditions Apply. Visit here for the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card to learn more.
Best travel credit card for a big sign-up bonus
Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card
Minimum credit score: Excellent
Minimum income: Meet a minimum annual income of $60,000 or a minimum household income of $100,000 or minimum assets under management of $250,000
The shortcut to getting major value from any credit card is to get a card with a huge sign-up bonus, preferably one that doesn’t come with high spending requirements. The Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card delivers on that front for new cardholders. Earn up to $1,100* in value in the first 12 months, including up to 35,000 bonus Scene+ points and first year annual fee waived on your first supplementary card.¹ Earn 25,000 bonus Scene+ points by making at least $1,000 in everyday eligible purchases in your first 3 months. Plus, as a Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite cardholder, you are eligible to earn an annual 10,000 Scene+ point bonus when you spend at least $40,000 in everyday net eligible purchases annually. Offer ends October 31, 2023.
Why we like the card
1 Scene+ point is worth about $0.01 when redeemed for travel, so the maximum value in the points in the card’s sign-up bonus is equal to about two and a half years worth of annual fees.
But the big sign-up bonus is also backed up by other value-added travel features, like complimentary Visa Airport Companion Program membership plus six complimentary lounge visits per year, no foreign transaction fees, and a well-rounded travel insurance package.
- Welcome Bonus: Earn up to $1,100* in value in the first 12 months, including up to 35,000 bonus Scene+ points and first year annual fee waived on your first supplementary card.¹ Offer ends October 31, 2023.
- Regular Earn Rates: Earn 3X Scene+™ points on every $1 you spend at Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, Foodland & Participating Co-ops, and more eligible grocers.¹ Earn 2 Scene+™ points on every $1 you spend on other eligible grocery stores, dining, entertainment purchases, and daily transit purchases (including buses, subways, taxis and more), and earn 1 Scene+™ point on every $1 you spend on all other eligible purchases.
- Travel Insurance: Full suite of travel insurance, including rare coverage for senior citizens
- Extra Travel Features: Visa Airport Companion Program membership + 6 free lounge entries annually
- No foreign transaction fees
Apply here or learn more by reading our complete Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card review.
¹ Conditions Apply. Visit here for the Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card to learn more.
Best for no-fee travel rewards
American Express® Green Card
Minimum credit score: Fair-Good
Minimum income: N/A
If you’re looking to earn travel rewards but aren’t ready to commit to a credit card with an annual fee, the American Express® Green Card is an excellent place to start. As we mentioned, this credit card has no annual fee, and you can request up to 9 supplementary cards for additional cardholders to supercharge your earnings rate. When you use this credit card, you’ll earn one point per dollar spent on everything. There are no complicated rewards schedules or earnings categories, making it easy to calculate your expected rewards within a year.
You can redeem your membership points in a variety of ways, not just travel. You can use your membership points to pay for purchases on your credit card statement, book travel with American Express Travel Online through the Flexible Points Travel Program, buy merchandise, gift cards or make purchases directly through Amazon.ca.
Why we like the card
As a new American Express® Green Cardmember, you can earn a Welcome Bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards® points when you charge $1,000 in purchases to your Card in the first 3 months of Cardmembership. That’s $100 towards groceries or concert tickets. Conditions apply. These bonus points will jumpstart your travel plans and get you that much closer to booking your first trip. On top of this feature, cardholders have access to American Express invites, allowing exclusive access to a wide variety of exclusive opportunities, including early and reserve ticket sales, early access cinema screenings, and priority lines and bar access at major Canadian theatres.
- Welcome bonus: 10,000 Membership Rewards® points when you charge $1,000 in purchases to your Card in the first 3 months of Cardmembership (conditions apply)
- Earn rates: 1 point earned per dollar spent with no maximum earning limit.
- Point transfers: Change points to other popular travel reward programs, like Aeroplan and Avios, at a 1:1 transfer rate.
- Extra features: Zero liability, 24/7 customer service, American Express presale ticket access, reserved ticket access, Front of Line E-Updates, American Express Experiences – Cardmember Offers and Events, additional special access for all members
- Annual fees: $0
Apply for the American Express® Green Card.
Comparison of the best travel credit cards in Canada
|Credit card||Bonus||Annual fee||Min. personal income required|
|TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card||Best Offer yet for the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card: Earn up to $1,400 in value† including up to 50,000 Aeroplan points†. Conditions Apply. Must apply by January 3, 2024.||$139||$60,000|
|BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®||Get up to 60,000 points and the annual fee waived in the first year for both the primary cardholder and authorized users.*||$150 (First year free)||$80,000|
|Rogers™ World Elite® Mastercard®||$25 in cash back rewards when you make an eligible purchase within 3 months of receiving the card||$0||$80,000|
|Scotiabank Gold American Express® card||Earn up to $650* in value in the first 12 months, including up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points¹. Offer ends October 31, 2023.||$120||No minimum income requirements presented; please see Scotiabank.|
|Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card||Earn up to $1,100* in value in the first 12 months, including up to 35,000 bonus Scene+ points and first year annual fee waived on your first supplementary card.¹ Offer ends October 31, 2023.||$150||$60,000|
|American Express® Green Card||10,000 Membership Rewards® points when you charge $1,000 in purchases to your Card in the first 3 months of Cardmembership (conditions apply)||$0||N/A|
†Terms and conditions apply.
This offer for TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card is not available for residents of Quebec. Please see Quebec residents, please click here.
How to choose the best travel card for you
When comparing one travel credit card to the next, be mindful of the card features that are most relevant for your particular lifestyle and spending habits. Do you regularly fly to all corners of the globe? It might be worthwhile to get a card with free airport lounge access, so you can relax during long layovers. Do you prefer to travel with your partner? You might single out cards that offer a free annual companion fare.
There are credit card features purpose-built for all lifestyles. The benefits listed below are common for many of the most competitive travel cards in Canada, and it’s a good idea to review them before applying for a new card.
A large, lump-sum bonus of miles or rewards points is a great reason to apply for a new credit rewards card.
Just keep in mind that many sign-up bonuses are contingent upon the cardholder spending a certain amount in the first few months of cardmembership. But it’s usually worthwhile to try to meet this minimum spending requirement, as a big sign-up bonus might be enough for a short or long-haul flight.
Some sign-up bonuses might also waive the card’s first year annual fee, so those looking for value upfront should prioritize this feature.
Read: Best credit card sign-up bonuses
One of the most important features of any travel credit card, and the feature with the most longevity, is the card’s earn rate. Look for a card that earns miles or rewards points rapidly, and in the categories where you most frequently spend (e.g. groceries, gas, etc.).
You might also want to keep your eye out for a card with a high ‘flat’ earn rate, meaning it earns rapidly on all spending you do, not just in specific categories.
Read: Best rewards credit cards
Some cards earn miles and membership reward points quickly, but the process of redeeming those miles and rewards might be a headache.
For instance, what if you can only redeem within one rewards program, which has a limited flight selection? Or what if you can redeem rewards for the core price of a flight, but not for additional flight taxes and fees?
When selecting a credit rewards card, it’s important to pay attention to the rewards program’s flexibility when redeeming. It’s equally important to understand the real-world value of points or miles depending on what you’re redeeming them for.
Read: The Canadian loyalty program bible
Paying an annual fee for the privilege of using a credit card can be annoying, so depending on your perspective you may want to prioritize travel credit cards with no fee, or those with perks that you know deliver equivalent or greater value to the card’s annual fee.
There’s a range of great travel cards in both camps, from cards with a $0 fee that still earn some miles or rewards, to those with fees reaching $900, but that come with an enormous amount of built-in value, justifying the high annual fee.
We don’t feature cards that can’t justify their annual fee, and when issuers increase a card’s annual fee without a commensurate increase of a value package, we call them out on it.
Read: Best no fee credit cards
Foreign transaction fees
This feature is appreciated most by travellers who often fly abroad or shop online at sites that don’t process CA$.
Foreign transaction fees are typically 2.50% of any purchase not in CA$, and they are charged by the vast majority of Canadian credit cards. Paying with one of the rare credit cards that waive these fees can save quite a bundle throughout a trip.
Read: Best credit cards with no foreign transaction fees
It’s no fun to suffer through uncomfortable airport benches, spotty Wi-Fi and expensive food for hours on end. Access to an airport lounge, of which most airports have at least one, will save these pains and more—and are worthwhile even for a short time.
Membership programs like Priority Pass and LoungeKey offer access to worldwide lounges, over 1,000 each, and they come for free with a number of travel cards. Some cards even grant a set number of free lounge entry passes each year.
Those who spend a lot of time in airports, or who simply detest the crowds, should look for this perk.
Read: Best credit cards with lounge access
Your Canadian health insurance is useless once you travel overseas—and much of it won’t be applicable if you even travel outside your home province. That’s why it’s essential to make sure you have special insurance to cover you in the event of illness or injury while travelling.
You can buy a policy individually from an insurer (see our guide to the Best Travel Insurance in Canada if you opt for that route), or you can look for a credit card that comes with a fleet of travel insurance covering overseas medical emergencies, flight cancellations, interruptions, delays, baggage, rental cars and more.
Read: Best credit cards for travel insurance
Travellers who like to fly with a spouse, friend or relative on trips can use a companion fare or voucher to discount the price of that companion’s second ticket. This might be an annual perk, giving a credit card substantial value over time.
Companion fares are usually secondary perks on upper-tier travel cards with other appealing features as well, like a good earn rate, a large introductory bonus, or insurance.
Read: Best credit cards for companion tickets
A card’s payment processor—Visa, Mastercard, or Amex—can influence where and how the credit card can be used.
For instance, Amex cards often feature superior travel rewards and privileges, but some merchants might accept only Visa or Mastercard. The best Amex cards are often designated as ‘charge cards’ rather than credit cards, meaning that a cardholder must pay off the card’s balance in full every month, lest they be charged a very high penalty.
We recommend readers get an Amex card for its superb earn rates and features, but to always carry a Visa or Mastercard as well to pay at merchants that don’t accept Amex.
Travel credit card vs. hotel credit card: What’s the difference?
A hotel credit card is a credit card that focuses on maximizing your rewards for your favourite hotel chain. This means that you’ll be earning points towards free hotel stays, meals offered through on-site restaurants, and complimentary late checkouts.
However, some hotel credit cards give similar perks to travel credit cards, in the way that you can transfer your points to several participating airline rewards programs. So, while travel credit cards will likely offer a better conversion rate for points to travel rewards, you still have the potential to earn many of the same travel perks with a hotel card.
Our favourite hotel credit card is The Marriott Bonvoy® American Express®* Card. Not only can Marriott Bonvoy® reward points be redeemed at more than 7,000 hotels worldwide with no blackout dates within the Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and Delta families, but you can also transfer your points to more than 40 participating airline rewards programs.
What happens to your points if you cancel a travel credit card?
Say you’ve spent a good amount of time accumulating your travel points over the past several years, and are now ready to cancel your travel credit card—where do your rewards points go? Will you lose them or are they yours to keep and store for future use?
While the answer to this question can vary depending on the terms of your credit card and the credit card provider, your airline rewards are usually safe. Usually, your rewards are deposited in a frequent flier account, which is separate from your credit card, should it close for whatever reason.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that you can lose access to your points if you don’t use them fast enough. Some frequent-flier programs will expire your points if there isn’t activity in your account for a long period of time, so check the fine print that came along with your account.
FAQs about travel credit cards
Which cards are accepted worldwide?+
The generalization that Visa and Mastercard are more widely accepted than Amex is not necessarily the case abroad like it is in Canada. American Express carries a lot of prestige and has a large network in foreign countries, and before travelling it’s best to check on a country-by-country basis about which card processors are most widely accepted. Merchants in some areas may inexplicably tend to support Mastercard over Visa, for example.
Which cards offer the best travel insurance?+
Out-of-province medical coverage is what most refer to when they say they want the best insurance that their credit card can provide. Medical coverage is measured by the amount of time it covers you while you’re travelling and the maximum age limit that it covers. Aside from out-of-province medical coverage, it’s also good to have insurance for delays and interruptions, your baggage, rental car and other potential liabilities. The best cards combine all into one, like the Desjardins Odyssey® World Elite® Mastercard or the Scotiabank Gold American Express®.
Can I get a travel card with low/bad/fair credit?+
There are travel cards in Canada accessible to applicants with credit scores in the mid-600 range or higher. These travel cards designated for those with average/fair credit scores likely won’t feature the most sought-after travel perks, like lounge access or extensive travel insurance, but they should at least earn some travel rewards or miles for regular spending. Keep in mind that your credit score will also affect your credit limit.
Will applying for multiple cards ruin my credit score?+
It’s best to minimize the number of credit card applications you make within a period of a few months. Each credit card application review will typically require a hard credit check, and many hard credit checks in a short period could damage your credit score and suggest to a potential lender that you aren’t creditworthy.
American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information click the Apply now link. Conditions apply.BMO is not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click on the Apply now link for the most up to date information.